• The state of mapping APIs

    September 15, 2010  |  Mapping, Software

    O'Reilly Radar surveys the state of mapping APIs from old sources (like Google) and new ones (like CloudMade). Spoiler alert: there's a lot of opportunity out there.

    Maps took over the web in mid-2005, shortly after the first Where 2.0 conference. They quickly moved from fancy feature to necessary element of any site that contained even a trace of geographic content. Today we're amidst another location and mapping revolution, with mobile making its impact on the web. And with it, we're seeing even more geo services provided by both the old guard and innovative new mapping platforms.

    [O'Reilly Radar]

  • Evolving path of the Mississippi River

    September 15, 2010  |  Mapping

    Evolution of the Mississippi River

    We often think of rivers as following a given path for the course of its life, but really, the path changes over time as the flow cuts into the earth. The water flows through old and new and back again. In 1944, cartographer Harold Fisk mapped the current Mississippi River. It's the white trail. Then Fisk used old geological maps to display old paths. They're the old colored paths. And what you get is this long run of windy, snake-like things. [Twisted History | Thanks, Michael]

  • Where your neighbors commute to and from

    September 14, 2010  |  Mapping

    Mapping where people commute from

    Some people live in areas where a one-hour commute both ways is common, while others practically live across the street from their workplaces. Engineer slash designer Harry Kao has an interactive look at commuting by zip code:

    In Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), the author states that commute times throughout history have remained steady at roughly a half hour in each direction. Advances in transportation technology (our feet, horses, bicycles, trains, automobiles, flying cars, etc.) allow us to live farther from where we work. This got me thinking about my own commute from Berkeley to San Francisco, how it compares to those of my neighbors, and how commutes vary across the country.

    Using commute data from Census Transportation Planning Package and travel times from the Google Maps API, an interactive map lets you see where people in your area commute to or from. Enter your zip code and explore.
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  • Illustration of ideas and concepts

    September 13, 2010  |  Infographics

    In a different take on the infographic, RSA Animate illustrates the ideas and concepts proposed by invited speakers at RSA lectures. A recorded audio version lecture runs in the background a hand, possibly the same hand who played Thing on the Addams Family, draws what the lecturer is saying.

    Below is the illustrated version of Professor Phillip Zimbardo's lecture on the secret powers of time. The original video of Zimbardo speaking at a podium follows. Same message, but very different visuals.
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  • Battle for Web supremacy

    September 12, 2010  |  Mapping

    Points of control - battle for network economy

    Blend Interactive maps points of control for the Web 2.0 Summit in the style of the Risk board game. Areas of the Web are shown as continents, and countries are the areas where major players have "claimed." Click on the movements button to see what areas each company has ventured in to, and click on icons to get more info. A more neutral-colored map might have benefited the paths and icons, but it's still fun to look at. And yes, the geography of the map is fake.

    [Web 2.0 Summit | Thanks, KM]

  • The future of self-service banking

    September 9, 2010  |  Misc. Visualization

    Future of self-service banking

    Too many slots. Too many buttons. Spanish bank BBVA and design consultancy IDEO rethink the ATM:

    ATMs were first introduced over 40 years ago and since then many features have been incrementally added to the machines, in order to fulfill the dream of a truly “automated teller”. Modern ATMs offer a wide range of banking transactions; nevertheless the actual interaction has remained largely untouched.

    Fewer slots. Fewer buttons. More privacy and personalization.

    [via]

  • Social life of Foursquare users mapped

    September 9, 2010  |  Mapping

    Social life of foursquare

    Foursquare, the location-based social network, lets people share their location with others in the form of checkins. Map all of those checkins, and you get a sense of social hotspots across a city. This is what Anil Bawa-Cavia did in his project archipelago. Based on 845,311 checkins and 20,285 locations, he mapped activity for New York, London, and Paris.

    In these maps, activity on the Foursquare network is aggregated onto a grid of ‘walkable’ cells (each one 400×400 meters in size) represented by dots. The size of each dot corresponds to the level of activity in that cell. By this process we can see social centers emerge in each city.

    Here are the maps for each city.
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  • Faith and poverty in the world

    September 8, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    World of Faith by Charles M Blow

    Using data from a recent Gallup report showing a correlation between wealth and faith, Charles M. Blow reports in graphic form. Each sphere, sized by population, represents a country. Spheres are colored by dominant religion in that country.
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  • Various ways to rate a college

    September 8, 2010  |  Network Visualization, Statistics

    Measures for different college ratings

    There are a bunch of college ratings out there to help students decide what college to apply to (and give something for alumni to gloat about). The tough part is that there doesn't seem to be any agreement on what makes a good college. Alex Richards and Ron Coddington describe the discrepancies.
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  • Tracking firefly trails in the forest

    September 7, 2010  |  Misc. Visualization

    firefly trails

    Physicist Kristian Cvecek hangs out in the forest sometimes to take these beautiful pictures of firefly trails, using slow shutter speeds on his camera. Even better than the long exposure shot of a Roomba. [via]

  • Mapping the moves of New York residents

    September 2, 2010  |  Mapping

    moritz.stefaner.eu - Map your moves

    A couple of months back, WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show asked listeners who have moved to or away from New York some questions. They asked current zipcode, previous zipcode, year of move, and some other questions. BLS then posted the data and let information and data folk have a go at it. Here are the results.
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  • Real-time match display for the US Open

    September 1, 2010  |  Misc. Visualization

    Real-time display of US Open

    The tennis US Open is in full swing, and since you're at work, you probably need a way to keep up with all of the matches. In a collaboration between the US Open and IBM, this real-time display shows you what's going on during any given match.
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  • What different sorting algorithms sound like

    September 1, 2010  |  Misc. Visualization

    What sorting algorithms sound like

    Last month we saw sorting algorithms visualized in rainbow technicolor. Now, by Rudy Andrut, here they are auralized.

    This particular audibilization is just one of many ways to generate sound from running sorting algorithms. Here on every comparison of two numbers (elements) I play (mixing) sin waves with frequencies modulated by values of these numbers. There are quite a few parameters that may drastically change resulting sound - I just chose parameteres that imo felt best.

    It sounds like someone is playing on old Atari game. Warning: may cause seizures. Watch it in action in the video below.
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  • A house that knows when you’re happy and sad

    August 30, 2010  |  Data Art, Self-surveillance

    Happylife by Auger Loizeau

    Auger Loizeau, in collaboration with Reyer Zwiggelaar and Bashar Al-Rjoub, describe their smart-home project Happylife. It monitors facial expressions and movements to estimate a family's mood, displayed via four glowing orbs on the wall, one for each member.
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  • The beauty of data visualization

    August 30, 2010  |  Visualization

    billion dollar gram by david mccandless

    Connoisseur of scaled rounded rectangles, bubbles, and triangles, David McCandless of Information is Beautiful talks data visualization in recently posted TED talk (below). He explains how information design can help us get through information glut on the Web and how simple charts can show patterns that we never would have seen otherwise. He uses his own works and collaborations as evidence.
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  • Asteroid discoveries over past 30 years visualized

    August 27, 2010  |  Mapping

    Asteroid discoveries visualized

    This animation by Scott Manley of the Armagh Observatory shows a beautiful view of the past 30 years of asteroid discoveries, using data culled by Ted Bowell and company.

    As time passes, asteroids are highlighted white and then colored by how closely they come to our inner solar system. Earth crossers are red, Earth approachers are yellow, and all others are colored green.

    What you get is a view of the solar system's planets and asteroids orbiting the sun and these beautiful sparkles in sky. As automated sky scanning systems come online in the 1990s, we see waves of discoveries. Then starting at the beginning of 2010, we see a discovery pattern as a result of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, which has been tasked with mapping all infrared light in the sky.

    Watch the full video below.
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  • Map of who owns the Arctic

    August 27, 2010  |  Mapping

    Map of who owns Arctic

    Do you know who owns the Arctic? As it turns out, it's a pretty messy subject:

    In August 2007 Russian scientists sent a submarine to the Arctic Ocean seabed at 90° North to gather data in support of Russia's claim that the North Pole is part of the Russian continental shelf. The expedition provoked a hostile reaction from other Arctic littoral states and prompted media speculation that Russia's action might trigger a "new Cold War" over the resources of the Arctic.

    Luckily things are at least a little more in control now though. Well, sort of. Canada, Denmark and the US still need to define their continental shelf limits. Keep in mind that the shelf can be more than 200 nautical miles from these countries' coastal baselines.

    The International Boundaries Research Unit provides this map [pdf] of claimed boundaries and areas that will potentially be claimed in the future.

    [via]

  • Icons of the Web scaled by popularity

    August 26, 2010  |  Misc. Visualization

    Icons of the web scaled by Alexa reach

    Nmap visualizes site popularity as scaled icons. Favicons, that is. They're that little icon that shows in your address bar or when you bookmark a site in your browser. If you're reading this on FlowingData, you should see a little red icon next to the URL. The larger the icon, the more popular the site is, based on Alexa traffic data. In whole, the image is a giant 37,440 by 37,440 pixels image. Google is 11,936 x 11,936 pixels. Facebook is 6,736 × 6,736 pixels. Yahoo is 6,544 × 6,544 pixels.
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  • How tax breaks could affect your bottom line

    August 26, 2010  |  Infographics

    Fight over tax breaks infographic

    Wilson Andrews and Alicia Parlapiano report for The Washington Post on how the fight over tax breaks affects your bottom line:

    Tax cuts enacted under former president George W. Bush are set to expire at year's end, and lawmakers are battling over whether to extend them before the November elections. Most Republicans want to extend all of the cuts, saying that any increase in taxes will hold back the economic recovery. President Obama and Democratic leaders would extend many of the cuts but say tax breaks for top earners should expire to pare down deficits. Each plan would affect average tax rates for income groups differently.

    Each row represents an income group, and you can flip between letting Bush's tax cuts expire, shifting to Obama's plan, and extending the current cuts. Bubbles on the right show the average tax change per taxpayer for each income group. Switch from the first option (letting all cuts expire) to the second (Obama's plan), and you'll notice some changes for top earners.
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  • Countries of the world ranked by stuff

    August 25, 2010  |  Statistical Visualization

    Countries ranked by health and education

    What country has the best education? Health? Quality of life? Thomas Klepl and Adam Clarkson of Newsweek take a look at important metrics for the world's best countries. It's basically a parallel coordinates plot turned on its side. Each represents a metric, and each circle in a row is a country.

    Select a country from the list on the left or by directly interacting with the plot. If a country is top in all categories, like Finland, then all of the scores are going to be on the right. Burkina Faso, on the other hand, is all the way to the left. Of course, this is only the "top" 100 countries.

    You can also filter by geographic regions, income, and population groups.

    While I'm not totally sure about the ranking system and methodology, it's an interesting look.

    [Thanks, Adam]

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